Wednesday, 19 December, 2018

Oil prices fall on swelling glut, economic growth concerns

Oil prices skid amid global stock market slump, swelling US supply Trump asks OPEC not to cut production
Priscilla Morrison | 06 December, 2018, 09:15

Saudi Arabia has indicated it wants the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies to cut output by at least 1.3 million barrels per day, or 1.3 percent of global production. But they're contending with vociferous opposition from the US president, who's taken to using his Twitter account to berate the group's policies and sees low oil prices as key to sustaining America's economic growth.

The uncertainty over possible production cuts caused oil prices to dip on Wednesday as investors wait on a decision.

Iranian oil minister has lashed out at U.S. special representative for Iran Brian Hook over his "meddlesome" meetings with members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in Vienna, asserting that OPEC is an independent body that does not take orders from the US. The producer group's de facto leader, Saudi Arabia, has indicated a need for steep reductions in output from January but has come under pressure from U.S. President Donald Trump to push oil prices lower.

"I'm cautiously optimistic that a deal gets done, but the devil will be in the detail", said Mohammad Darwazah, a director at Medley Global Advisers.

In private conversations earlier this week, OPEC delegates said that Saudi Arabia had favored a Russian cut of about 300,000 barrels a day, but Moscow was seeking a smaller reduction of about 150,000, said people familiar with those talks.

In a sign of easing tensions between the world's two biggest economies, Chinese oil trader Unipec plans to resume USA crude shipments to China by March after the Xi-Trump deal at the G20 meeting reduced the risk of tariffs being imposed on these imports, people with knowledge of the matter said.

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"I think the likelihood is that they will cut crude production rate, maybe not as dramatically as some people would like, to try and meet a balance between what the US would like and their own personal interests".

A slowing economy may further undermine oil prices.

The meetings are expected to be focused on a deal to reduce output, but Iran's OPEC governor Hossein Kazempour Ardabili believes an agreement is unlikely to be reached.

Russia's TASS news agency quoted an OPEC source as saying OPEC and its allies were discussing the idea of cutting output next year by reverting to production quotas agreed in 2016.

"We have taken over 1 million bpd off Iran's export list and many more barrels will be coming off very soon", the diplomat said at a briefing. Official U.S. government oil production and inventory data are also due on Thursday.

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